We wanted to kickstart this week by sharing some of the incredibly moving journeys of our very own Ambassadors here at SOAS. We’re very lucky to have such an inspiring, thoughtful group of fierce women working with us and thought we would share some of their stories with all of you. We wanted to take the time to highlight the fact that behind every athlete is a journey, behind every human is a struggle. Nobody is perfect. Nobody gets to where they are by chance. We work every day to get a little bit better, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster. We hope you may find strength and solace in some of the stories our Ambassadors were kind enough to share with all of us today.
Dayle has been an Ambassador with SOAS for three years and while triathlon has helped her with maintaining her physical health it’s also done a great deal for her emotional well being as well. Dayle began to struggle with body issues following her battle with unexplained infertility and two miscarriages. She began to feel frustrated with her own body for not being able to handle what seemed so simple for so many other women. Competing in triathlons helped remind Dayle of how amazing and strong her own body was. She was able to reconnect with herself, both physically and mentally through the grueling journey that is triathlon. Dayle’s currently training towards completing her first marathon this year and her first Full Ironman next year!
In Spring of 2004 Leslie’s father was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare and incurable disease that quickly encroached on his kidneys and heart. Leslie’s father was one of her biggest supporters and fans as she began her journey in the Triathlon world. As Leslie was preparing to run her first ever IM she began to worry that her father wouldn’t be able to make it to see her run it in August. By July her Father could hardly walk, but come 5:00 AM on the day of Leslie’s IM he showed up on a rented scooter to cheer Leslie on and complete his volunteer duties for the race. He was there to cheer her on and witness his daughter complete her very first IM. Her Father unfortunately passed December 25th of that year but he has remained an immeasurable source of inspiration and guidance for Leslie throughout the years. Every race day Leslie wears a teardrop pendant with her Father’s ashes to remind her to never give up and persevere throughout her journey, the same way her Father always encouraged her to.
Amy Coley Derouin
Our Ambassador Amy has been running cross country and track since her middle school days but decided to take a break from it after high school when life became too hectic, but then life decided it had other plans. Her father ended up qualifying for the Boston marathon on his first attempt. His accomplishment motivated her to sign up and train for the Boston 5k herself. She made the trip over for the 2013 Boston marathon to support him on the sidelines.
Following the race the unthinkable happened. The explosions went off as they made it back to their hotel. They managed to make it through the day unscathed but it was at that moment, under circumstances that would have left most terrified, that Amy decided that she had to be a marathoner. Instead of letting a horrific moment like that instill fear in her heart, it did just the opposite. In the face of terror Amy looked it head on with bravery. She began her foray into the world of triathlon and never looked back.
At age 22 Amy was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, but in no way did she let that slow her down. She’s run multiple marathons since and even one Olympic Triathlon. Despite the challenges that Amy has faced in her life she has chosen to turn every obstacle into an opportunity to get a little bit better, train a little bit harder, run a little bit faster.
More Ambassador Stories
Between wedding gown fittings, full-time work, and school Rebecca Aquino managed to find the time to run a grueling mountain stage. Along the way she found that every hour of training also helped her to get back to loving herself.
When Sally Atwood’s good friend decided to organize a 400 mile bike ride from Solihull to Brussels (in only 4 days no less!) Sally decided to take a leap of faith and join in. She focused all of her energy on training and even helped organize the event. Thus began her love for triathlon and she's been competing ever since.
When Shannon Greene broke her pelvis she decided that wasn’t going to keep her from USAT Collegiate Nationals. Even though she had to walk the entire 10k she was determined to participate and finish. A mere three months from then she ended up setting a personal record at 70.3, and then did the same thing three months later! She even qualified for 70.3 world championships.
Even though Jenna Alexis has epilepsy, which puts her at risk every time she decides to race, she never let that keep her from racing.
We hope this handful of stories from our courageous lady ambassadors here at SOAS will serve as a reminder to always push through what life may throw your way and to remember that every obstacle we fight through gets us to where we need to be.
Best of luck,
The SOAS Team